Eight Mercatus | Startup SG Founder Programme Accredited Mentor Partners

Startup SG Founder provides mentorship and startup capital grant of S$30,000 to first-time entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas.

Enterprise Singapore (ESG) has appointed Eight Mercatus as Accredited Mentor Partners (AMP) that will identify qualifying applicants based on the uniqueness of business concept, feasibility of business model, strength of management team, and potential market value.

Upon successful application, we will assist the startups with advice, learning programs and networking contacts.

Startups are required to raise and commit S$10,000 as co-matching fund to the grant.
quick snapshot of key features

Overview of Startup SG Founder Grant


Encourage first-time entrepreneurs to start their own businesses through mentorship and financial support.

Grant Amount: $30k over 12 months

Grant will be divided into at least 2 tranches, tied to developmental milestones. To be matched by founder in 3:1 co-matching ratio.

Develop appropriate milestones with startups.

Provide mentorship and guidance over approved SSG Founder startup’s 12 month incentive period.

Works through Accredited Mentor Partners (Private sector)

Appointed for 3 years. Identify, assess and recommend eligible startups to ESG.

Qualifying Criteria

Main Applicant and startups must meet eligibility criteria. Must also propose a business idea with strong differentiation, feasible business model, good
market potential and a strong management team.

About Startup SG Founder
What are the objectives of the Startup SG Founder programme?

The objectives of the Startup SG Founder programme include:

a) Encouraging entrepreneurship as a career choice for graduates;
b) Changing the mindset that mid-career professionals should not be entrepreneurs. ESG hopes to support the first foray into entrepreneurship, particularly in deep tech sectors
c) Amplifying ESG’s outreach to startups through AMPs;
d)  apping on the expertise of AMPs that are better qualified to assess and support startups;
e) High potential deep tech startups tapping on other follow-on schemes to support its growth journey.

Is there a template available for AMPs to follow in the SSG Founder application process? Whatdocuments are required?

Yes, there is a standard application form, and a list of supporting documents that are required to be submitted in the application process.

What are the priority sectors that ESG is looking to support?

ESG’s priority sectors include Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (e.g. Robotics), Internet ofThings, Health and Biomedical Sciences, Services and Digital Economy (e.g. Data analytics orCybersecurity), Agri-Tech and Food-Tech.

Are social enterprises considered for SSG Founder?

ESG would focus on the business aspects of the company, with preference in the tech sectors. If startups have defensible technologies/solutions, and have revenue generating model with the ability to scale, they can be supportable.

Can startups pivot its business model while on the scheme?

Yes, startups may pivot their business models during the grant period, with compelling justifications. However, they will still have to meet the revised set of milestones accordingly.

How flexible is the first time eligibility criteria?

The intent of this grant scheme is to support first time entrepreneurs. Exceptions are assessed on a case-by-case basis. ESG understands that to promote entrepreneurship, some schools may require students to register a business as part of a course requirement. Hence ESG will assess these on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the reasons. Serial entrepreneurs may wish to work with a first time entrepreneur or tap on other relevant grant schemes (e.g. Startup SG Tech) for support.

How flexible is the criteria of the business being incorporated for less than 6-month?

The 6-month incorporation requirement is arbitrary, and deviations are allowed on a case-by-case basis.

Is there flexibility to support foreign founders?

The main applicant for Startup SG Founder must be a Singaporean or a Permanent Resident, but the startup’s co-founders maybe foreign. Applicants should be mindful that the total local shareholding ofSingaporeans/PRs in the company must be more than 50% to be eligible for the grant. Foreign founders can access other forms of support by ESG if they meet the respective qualifying criteria.

What is the 1:3 ratio for? Is there any further co-matching investment by ESG?

The SSG Founder Grant is a $30,000 disbursement grant and there is a 1:3 co-matching requirement, where a $10,000 investment must be made to the company, either by the AMP or the founder/applicant, in order to unlock the $30,000 grant.

Are there any guidelines on how the grant money should be used?

The SSG Founder award grant cannot be used to repay loans. Otherwise, there is flexibility in using it for most business operational expenses. ESG expects a proper Accounts to be kept, and will require that at the milestone check.

Could a startup apply for the grant through one AMP and then do the same with another AMP?

No, the grant is awarded specifically to the founder and company, and they will not be allowed to apply for the grant again if awarded. However, startups are allowed to approach multiple AMPs before deciding on the AMP that fits them best.

How do grant disbursement and milestones work?

The SSG Founder Grant is disbursed in 2 tranches. The first tranche is disbursed upon award, after submission of the supporting documents to prove that the basic requirements have been met. The second tranche is disbursed when startups fulfill the milestones within a year of being awarded the grant.

Milestones are determined in the application and evaluation process. AMPs will recommend milestones in their startup recommendation applications to ESG, and we may negotiate and recommend milestones depending on the nature of the startup and its state of development.

What are appropriate milestones to recommend?

Some AMPs treat this 12-month period as a Proof-of-Concept stage and the milestones were set accordingly. You may wish to set the milestones to what you want the startups to achieve within 12months in your programme. As much as possible, AMPs should set milestones that stretch the startups to accomplish them around 12 months. ESG will also negotiate to ensure that milestones are reasonable and not too easy to meet in a short timeframe.

How much time does the startup have to fulfil the milestones?

Startups are to fulfil the milestones that are set by AMPs and ESG within 12 months. Upon the fulfilment of the milestones, the startup and AMP should contact ESG to request for the disbursement of the second tranche amount.

Should ESG not receive any updates from the startup and AMP about fulfilling their milestones within12 months, the grant shall expire with no further disbursements.

AMPs and startups may request for extensions to the grant period should it be raised before the 12months is up. Requests for extensions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, subject to further approvals.

Startups from NTU and NUS tend to receive internal funding, are they considered government funding, and will that be a problem with regards to the requirement of the startup not being funded by the government?

At the point of application, startups are required to declare any incentives they have received or pending to receive. ESG will work with AMPs to deconflict the milestones to be set, and/or adjust the grant period.

Are startups who have already raised funding eligible for the Startup SG Founder grant?

Yes, as long as they hit the Startup SG eligibility criteria, e.g. incorporated for less than 6 months, first time entrepreneur and have Singaporean shareholding of at least 51%.

Are applicants who have overseas ventures but no prior business ventures in Singapore still considered first time entrepreneurs?

Applicants will be required to declare past ventures but they are still considered first time entrepreneurs in Singapore based on ACRA records.

Startups from NTU and NUS tend to receive internal funding, are they considered government funding, and will that be a problem with regards to the requirement of the startup not being funded by the government?

At the point of application, startups are required to declare any incentives they have received or pending to receive. ESG will work with AMPs to deconflict the milestones to be set, and/or adjust the grant period.

Eligibility Criteria For Main Applicant

1. Be a first time entrepreneur, Singapore Citizen/PR

i. Profile on ACRA should only have 1 entity under applicant’s name (if he has
registered his startup)

ii. 0 entity (if he has yet to registered his startup).

2. Hold ≥ 30% equity

3. Approved applicants must be a key decision maker and commit full-time to the company and not be in any other employment from the time they accept the terms and conditions of ESG’s offer.

Eligibility Criteria For Startup

1. Be operating within 6 months of incorporation at the point of application to AMP

2. Have minimum Singapore Citizen/PR shareholding of 51%

3. Have business activities conducted wholly or mainly in Singapore

4. Have not received any funding for the proposed business idea from another government organisation

5. Proposed business must not be in the following list:

Cafes, nightclubs, lounges, bars
Foot reflexology, massage parlours, beauty salons
Prostitution, social escort services
Employment agencies (including recruitment of foreign workers, relocation services and manpower services)

Download Application Form